One of South Africa‘s eleven official languages, the Zulu language is spoken by more than nine million people. Its sound system, Britannica notes, contains three types of click sounds, and is one of many click languages that are only found in Africa.
In this Stray Along the Way video, Sakhile Dube of St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, demonstrates how these three click sounds—the consonants C, X, and Q—are pronounced. He also pronounces P with a pop of the lips. From a Peace Corps Introduction to Zulu (.pdf):
“C: It is a sound sometimes made in English to express exasperation. The sound is made by pressing the tip of the tongue against the forepart of the upper mouth, and then withdrawing it.
“X: This is the sound sometimes made to indicate exasperation, or to urge a horse on to greater speed.
“Q: In order to sound this press the front part of the tongue against the upper part of the mouth, and then release the tongue sharply.”
And the “ultimate tongue twister” in Zulu? Dube translates ‘a water monitor jumps a fence’ to demonstrate all three clicks in the same sentence.
Zulu people are one of the four distinct cultures of the Nguni people, which also includes the Xhosa people of the Eastern Cape, the Ndebele people in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, and the Swazi people of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).